Alison Baverstock founded Reading Force seven years ago. With the launch of our shiny new website and the new school term, Alison reflects on why she started Reading Force….
It’s back to school time all over the country. Children are busy getting creases and scuff marks into what were their pristine new shoes. During the week ahead, universities are preparing for the arrival of a new intake of students (my day job is as an academic at Kingston University where I teach Publishing Studies – incidentally, that’s how I met Hattie Gordon, who now manages Communications and Liaison for Reading Force).
To be honest, I find the new academic year in September a better time for making New Year resolutions than January. In September, the wonderful autumn colours (I love orange) and the slight chill in the air somehow invite a new sense of purpose. Whereas when it’s time for the new calendar year, I always find the cold makes it hard to marry a determination to do something differently with actually getting started.
So the new academic year ahead seems a good time to remind you of both why we began encouraging Forces families to read together – as well as the wider benefits of getting involved.
We started Reading Force because a shared experience over a book is a brilliant way to be in touch. Talking about a book you are reading, or sharing it over skype, can provide common ground for conversations about many other things. Forces families face a lot of change, and sometimes it can be hard to keep contact going – children can be angry to find their parent deployed or that there is yet another move coming up. Talking about a shared book can take the heat out of the situation, enabling families to connect – and giving them something to talk about. Sharing a book also provides the opportunity to draw in the wider family – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, who might not otherwise be in regular contact.
We have been running Reading Force since 2011 and know it works. Families tell us that they feel more connected, more in touch. And another benefit is that everyone’s reading improves, and in the long term, life outcomes are better for readers: they tend to be more articulate, safer – and earn more.
Remember too that the scheme is available free to all Forces families, including the families of separated and divorced Service people, veterans and reservists. We’ve had many families who have repeatedly taken part since we started. And because each year they have shared a book together and compiled a scrapbook, they now have a collection of scrapbooks from the last seven years as special mementos.
So this new academic year, why not think about how your Forces family could benefit from Reading Force – and how you might not only enjoy a fun experience, but also produce something that in the future you will really cherish? A resolution to take part might be all you need.
Get in touch to receive a free scrapbook and free book at www.readingforce.org.uk